How to create shopping lists, to-dos and other checklists in Notes app

Notes iOS 9 El Capitan teaser 001

A much-improved Notes application is one of my favorite features of iOS and macOS. With it, you can now draw sketches with your finger, enrich your thoughts with photos, maps and web links—and even create a checklist of to-dos.

Checklists work perfectly for stuff like grocery lists, wish lists, quick to-dos and what not, and they’re interactive so you can tick off individual items to mark them as completed. And with iCloud, changes to your notes are automatically pushed to all your devices.

In this post, we’re going to demonstrate how easy it is to create interactive checklists in Notes on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac and

How to create checklists in Notes for iOS

Step 1: Open Notes on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Step 2: Tap the pencil and pad icon at the lower right of the screen to start a new note.

Step 3: Next, tap a gray circle with the plus sign just above the keyboard to reveal a toolbar providing quick access to the Notes features.

Apple Notes Checklists iPhone screenshot 003

Step 4: Now tap the Checklist icon in the toolbar.

Step 5: An empty circle will appear in your note, letting you type your first to-do. Pressing Enter positions the cursor in a new line so you can create another to-do.

Notes Checklists on iPhone Updated

Tip: You can also highlight multiple lines of text and then tap the Checklist button to turn them into tappable to-dos, all at once. To insert a new item into an existing checklist, position the cursor at the end of a line and hit Enter on the keyboard.

Step 6: Tap Done to finish creating the checklist.

How to create checklists in Notes for Mac

Step 1: Launch Notes on your Mac.

Step 2: Click the pencil and pad icon in the toolbar at the top to start a new note, or hit Command (⌘) – N.

Step 3: Click the Checklist icon in the toolbar, as depicted on the screenshot below. Alternatively, hit the Shift (⇧) – Command (⌘) – L keyboard combination or choose Checklist from Notes’ Format menu.

Apple Notes Checklists Mac screenshot 001

Step 4: The cursor will be positioned next to an empty circle in your new note so you can start typing away your to-do items immediately, separating each entry with Enter.

Apple Notes Checklists Mac screenshot 002

You can also view your checklists and other notes in Microsoft Outlook on your Windows computer set up for iCloud Notes using Apple’s free iCloud for Windows client.

How to create checklists in Notes on

Step 1: To use iCloud Notes on the web, go to on your computer and sign in using your Apple ID.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 001

Step 2: Click the pencil and pad icon in the toolbar to create a new note.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 003

Step 3: Now click the Checklist button next to the Format button in the toolbar to create your first to-do item. Type as many to-dos as you like, hitting Enter after each.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 004

Any changes you make to your notes on will be pushed to your devices that use iOS 10 or macOS and are set up for iCloud Notes, and vice versa.

iCloud Notes web screenshot 002

Keep in mind that using the Notes app on will only show notes you added or changed on or on your devices that have iOS 10 or macOS and are set up for iCloud Notes.

How to import existing lists into Notes

On a final note (pun intended), you don’t need to create checklists from scratch. To bring an existing formatted list from another app to Notes, first copy the text of that list into the clipboard.

Notes Checklists teaser 001

Paste the text into Notes, then highlight it and finally tap the Checklist button. This will instantly create a multi-item interactive checklist. Of course, you can paste existing lists from emails, text messages and so forth.

Sharing Checklists from Notes

Formatted checklists in Notes can be shared with friends and family. Open Notes, select a note and then tap iOS’s multi-purpose Share button to send it via email, Messages or through third-party apps with a Share extension. One thing to remember: interactive Notes checklists will be shared as non-interactive bulleted lists.

That means you cannot, for instance, share the shopping list from Notes with your girlfriend and have both of you add and tick off items as you go. For that, you’re advised to use Apple’s Reminders app.

That’s all, folks!

You’ve now mastered the art of interactive checklists in Notes.

The ability to check off items as you go, coupled with seamless syncing across iOS, OS X and the web, makes interactive checklists in Notes a viable (though rather basic) alternative to the Reminders app.

Related tutorials

You might also like the following tutorials and resources from our archives:

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